Residents raised concerns about how the multifamily 55+ development could impact traffic.
A 55+ multifamily development proposed for a vacant parcel on Old Kings Road has passed an initial hurdle, with developer The Richman Group getting the City Council’s go-ahead during a Sept. 4 council meeting to change the land’s zoning from commercial to multifamily residential.
The council’s vote — which was 4-0, with Councilwoman Heidi Shipley absent — followed comments by residents of the Woodlands neighborhood who opposed the proposed development, saying they were concerned about traffic and thought the development should be built elsewhere.
“The project that the Richman Group has presented to us ... sounds beautiful, sounds wonderful; the residents of the Woodlands are confused as to why they picked this specific location,” said Woodlands resident Ashleigh Kirks. “We live in the Woodlands. however, if they do decide to develop here, it will no longer be ‘the Woodlands.’ We just recently had a patch ... mowed over and turned into a senior living facility in the rear of the Woodlands neighborhood.”
She added that the neighborhood has limited entrances and exits.
“My concern is simply traffic: How are we going to get out?” she said. “It will be a traffic concern to put this facility at the front of our neighborhood at one of our exits. ... There’s 1,600 acres right here in Town Center that people want to develop. Why not put this beautiful project right here in Town Center? Why do we have to put it in our backyards, where we’re going to be looking out our kitchen window and looking at this huge building every day? It’s extremely close to our homes.”
Mike Feldbauer, another resident, said he had the same concerns as Kirks.
And, he said, if the project is approved, it would displace wildlife.
“I decided to buy a house in the Woodlands 12 years ago because it was a beautiful old community surrounded by beautiful woods with a lot of wildlife,” he said. “We’ve destroyed that with the building behind us, and we’re going do more with the building in front of us.”
CITY COUNCIL’S TASK
Many of the residents’ concerns and complaints were outside the purview of the City Council during this particular hearing.
The city’s current zoning of the land would allow for commercial buildings such as gas station to be built on the land, so the question before the council, Councilman Vincent Lyon said, is whether the city should leave the land zoned for commercial development or change it to multifamily development — the city has no authority to instead require that the privately-owned land be treated as a preserve.
The council’s task at the meeting was narrow: To determine whether the project met the city’s stated requirements for a rezoning from commercial to multifamily residential.
The council will have more leeway to consider this particular proposed development’s potential impact on the neighbors when a site plan is submitted to the council for approval.
Addressing residents’ concerns that the building could have Section 8 residents, Mayor Milissa Holland pointed out that the city has Section 8 residents already.
“Throughout our entire city there are Section 8 houses with people that are living in our residential single-family neighborhoods,” she said. “We are forbidden to restrict Section 8 housing by federal law. I just want to state, for the record, that these are not bad people in our community; these are hard-working people. I don’t think we should make judgements. ... I think that’s a [misunderstanding] out in our community a lot that Section 8 housing is only allocated to certain parts of our community, and that’s just not true. It’s throughout our community. You could have neighbors right now, right next door to you, that have a voucher from the federal government that live in what they deem to be Section 8 housing.”
74 NEW HOMES
Woodlands-area residents had previously attended an Aug. 15 Palm Coast Planning and Land Development Regulation Board meeting Aug. 15 to say they didn’t want the development built on Old Kings Road, but the planning board, over their protestations, decided to recommend that the City Council approve the development anyway.
The development, to be built on a 6.3-acre parcel, would include 74 homes spread over two 45-foot, three-story buildings. The units would be split 50-50 between one-bedroom homes renting for $663 and two-bedroom homes renting for $796.
The development would have a fitness center, library, computer center and game room, and a pool, said Richman Group representative Mac Ross. The development would also provide private transportation to its residents.
“This is the type of community you’re going to see that’s going be well built, well maintained and a place people want to live at,” Ross said. “You’re not going to get the bells and whistles — you might not have the granite counter tops and the stainless steel appliances — but you’re going to get everything that you need to have a good quality of life.”
The developer has contracts that would prevent it from reneging on its commitment that the development will be 55+, Ross said.
Before the council approved the zoning change, Councilman Bob Cuff at first motioned to deny the zoning change. His motion did not get a second. Neither did Councilman Nick Klufas’ motion to table the matter. Cuff then motioned to approve the zoning change, and that motion passed 4-0.